SC Grants Bail to Two Accused of Murdering Sitting MLA, Former Lawmaker in 2018

The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail to two accused in a case in which a sitting and a former MLA were killed in Andhra Pradesh in September 2018 by those allegedly belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The apex court observed it is “unable to form an opinion” that there are reasonable grounds for believing the accusations against the two accused of commission of offence under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were prima facie true.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and Rajesh Bindal set aside the December 2020 order of the high court of Andhra Pradesh at Amravati which had refused to grant them bail in the case.

The top court noted in its verdict that the incident took place on September 23, 2018 when Kidari Sarveswara Rao, the then member of the Legislative Assembly and whip of the Telugu Desam Party in the House, and Siveri Soma, a former MLA belonging to the TDP, were killed near village Livitiputtu in Visakhapatnam.

It noted the allegation that 45 accused persons belonging to CPI (Maoist) stopped the convoy of vehicles of the two leaders and killed both of them.

It noted the case was later transferred to the National Investigation Agency, the federal anti-terror probe agency.

“Taking the material against the appellants as it is and without considering the defence of the appellants, we are unable to form an opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations against the appellants of commission of offence under the UAPA are prime facie true,” the bench said.

The top court made it clear the findings recorded in its judgment are only prima facie observations recorded for the limited purpose of examining the issue before it and the trial in the case shall be conducted uninfluenced by these observations.

The bench noted the appellants are in custody for four-and-a-half-years and charges have not been framed.

“It is obvious that while granting bail, stringent conditions will have to be imposed. We propose to leave it to the special judge to impose appropriate conditions,” it said and set aside the high court order.

The bench directed that both the appellants be produced before the special judge at Vijayawada within a week who shall release them on bail on appropriate conditions determined by him after hearing the parties.

It noted the appellants were arrested in October 2018 and a charge sheet was filed against them in April 2019.

The apex court said there are 79 accused in the charge sheet and about 144 witnesses have been named in it.

It noted the allegation against one of the appellants is that he provided shelter and logistical support to the co- accused for facilitating the offence.

Abut the other appellant, the court said, it was alleged that he had association with the first appellant and was found in possession of certain pamphlets and literature of the CPI (Maoist).

The bench said, in any case, both of them were not present at the time of the commission of offence.

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